"Justin Swanton" wrote:Just out of curiosity, what exactly are you looking for from an editor? I passed My MS past my wife who was completely honest in her critical appraisal (i.e. she tore large parts of it to bits). Besides typos and grammatical inaccuracies I was looking for:
- obscure passages, i.e. parts where the reader could not figure out what was going on because I had taken it for granted so much in my mind that I didn't see the need to tell it;
- difficult sentence construction, where the reader has to work to figure out what is being said;
- glaring inconsistencies in a character's personality or behaviour;
- contrived language (the most common being the artificial 'hiking up' that is so prevalent with new writers - 'she glared at him', 'he shrieked', etc.).
Someone who is reasonably intelligent can do a very good job of picking up most of this. I would avoid using a professional writer as he/she has his own particular notion of what constitutes good writing. An experienced reader on the other hand has the right first impression approach to an MS to spot the real errors. Just tell them to be ruthless - you want to know what's wrong with your work!
What I am looking for in an editor is, above all things, story flow. All the rest-- awkward sentences, grammar bloops, mismatches, inconsistencies, and the like, I can depend on my several beta-reading friends to catch. What one doesn't, the next will. But no matter how polished all those things are, if the story doesn't grab, they are just a waste of everyone's time.
I'm hard to please when it comes to storytelling. I hate to be bored. I hate even worse the thought of boring somebody else.
There are several options for presenting any story. The trick is to arrange the telling in such a way that the reader is led from one scene to the next without losing interest. I want an editor who is expert at sniffing sagging plot space, and honest about telling me. Then I'll try telling that part from another angle, or putting that information in another place.